Da’Mon Blackshear is training either way.
Despite his CES MMA 61 bout with Andre Soukhamthath being canceled, Blackshear continues to hone his skills at Jackson Wink MMA in Alburqurque, New Mexico.
The bout was scheduled to take place at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island on April 24. A fight or not, Blackshear is making the most of his trip out west.
“I’m staying sharp because anything could happen, it could be over in two days, nothing is definite,” Blackshear said. “If it goes down, I’ll be ready, if it doesn’t, I’ll still be training.”
Blackshear is already more than a week into training at Jackson Wink for the first time. He plans to train a full month there after seeing the effects of training at Hard Knocks 365 prior to his last victory.
Blackshear opted to not return to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida gym this camp, since Soukhamthath used to train at the same facility.
“I needed more bodies and needed to get out of my comfort zone. You can’t be a big fish in a small pond,” Blackshear said. “I didn’t want to use the same coaches he’s [Soukhamthath] used, it didn’t feel right, so I decided to go to Jackson Wink.”
Blackshear spent three months at Hard Knocks before tapping Kody Nordby with an arm-triangle at CES 59 in October 2019. Blackshear won his first fight in over a year after training under the same roof as fighters like Kamaru Usman and Stefan Struve.
The bantamweight still trains out of Embrace Martial Arts in his home state of North Carolina and plans to finish his camp there after returning from Jackson Wink.
His trip to Hard Knocks was the start of something new.
“I developed a style, but I needed to change it up, especially if I wanted to get to where I want to go,” Blackshear said. “I felt like my growth went through the roof when I went down there and I was only down there for three months.”
He is still getting to know the Albuquerque gym, but wrestled with the likes of current Bellator featherweight Aaron Pico. Blackshear’s manager, Lamont Chappel had connections with Jackson Wink, which gave Blackshear more reason to visit.
“They have more guys my weight here, even though the coronavirus is still going on, there’s still was a decent amount,” Blackshear said. “I always had Jackson Wink on my mind, so it wasn’t much of stretch to say ‘Oh, I’ll come here.’”
Blackshear is still yet to fight for the same promotion back-to-back times. If his bout with Soukhamthath comes through eventually, it will be his first time fighting for any promotion consecutively.
He previously signed a three-fight contract with CES because of the opportunities it could offer. An opponent like Soukhamthath is the type of bout he’s looking for to earn a spot at the next level.
CES joins a number of promotions, including the UFC and Bellator MMA, who postponed events during the COVID-19 pandemic. CES announced the postponement via Facebook and Twitter on Friday, March 20.
No date has been set, but the promotion seems optimistic about the future.
“Asking our fighters to prepare to compete knowing there is a great chance the event will not take place would be unfair and, most importantly, unhealthy,” CES MMA COO Jimmy Burchfield Jr. said in the post. “This adversity will pass, and CES MMA will return in 2020 greater than ever. Until then, we ask all of our fighters and fans to take caution, exercise common sense and stay safe.”
After consulting with government officials, the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations, Twin River Casino Hotel and UFC FIGHT PASS®, CES MMA has decided to postpone its scheduled April 24, 2020 event, CES MMA 61, at the Twin River Event Center #CESMMA #ThisIsCES pic.twitter.com/etkfqBXtaL
— CES MMA (@CESMMA) March 19, 2020
Soukhamthath is the highest-profile fighter Blackshear has faced yet. Blackshear already holds victories over current UFC fighters Tony Gravely and Aalon Cruz. The only difference is those bouts took place well before the two fought in the octagon.
He split two bouts with Gravely as an amateur and submitted Cruz in the professional ranks during June 2017.
Soukhmathath returns to his former home, the CES, after making seven-straight UFC appearances. The Rhode Island native finished 2-5 in the octagon with victories over Luke Sanders and Jonathan Martinez.
Soukhamthath made a change of scenery of his own after by moving from Florida to Seattle, Washington. The move came shortly after being cut by the UFC in November 2019.
The former CES champion returns to Rhode Island in April after spending over three years away from the promotion.
“He’s got the biggest name I fought so far. I think he’s got a lot of popularity behind him because he made it to the UFC and people know who he is,” Blackshear said. “I don’t believe he’s the most talented guy I’ve faced. His striking is incredible, but name wise, that’s why it’s the biggest fight.”